Rising to the challenge. How FS companies are adapting to changing consumer needs.

Michael Worledge, Head of Financial Services Research

It was inevitable. Financial services providers are starting to move forward to research new products and services that reflect consumers’ changing needs. In recent months, we’ve learned how financial services providers are adapting—and how research can help.

What’s changed? 

It’s important to state that not everything has changed. For instance, confidence in different types of financial institutions—a measure we have tracked for over a decade—has remained stable, highlighting that providers have supported customers well so far.

However, we have seen some key changes in consumer intentions in our global COVID-19 barometer and our quarterly UK Financial Sentiment Indicator. Both track consumer attitudes and behaviour in the sector and indicate consumers are looking to: 

  • Save more for a rainy day. They are looking for more personalised, flexible products in this area. 
  • Budget better.
  • Review their finances, including some of the longer-term items.
  • Review their protection provision, from mobile phone insurance to life insurance.
  • Manage their products and services digitally to a greater extent than they do currently.
  • They’re now comfortable managing their finances digitally and want to continue to do this.

How are financial services providers adapting? 

Providers are moving from monitoring consumer sentiment and understanding the potential impact on their business to adopting a more forward-looking research approach to help them remain relevant now and into the future. For instance:

    • Testing new propositions that are relevant to new ways consumers are interacting with providers as a result of the pandemic. We helped a provider test propositions that enable its vulnerable customers to better access its services at the moment. These services will help to ensure that all customers continue to be supported during challenging times, and that the provider remains easy to do business with. 
    • Informing the future evolution of existing offerings. An example of this is a provider that is looking to understand what the next generation of an existing product should look like, considering evolving consumer needs, including what has become more relevant since Covid-19. Conducting this research means the provider is well placed to be at the forefront of new product development in this area.
    • Assessing new ideas for investment products. ESG (environmental, social and governance) investments are an area of increasing popularity, and providers are looking to understand appetite in this area to ensure they develop their proposition with the right focus, particularly in light of consumers reviewing their finances and how they invest. Providers that keep track of how investor attitudes are changing will be well-placed to develop relevant propositions that best meet market needs and to benefit from this growing sector.


  • Understanding how brand relevance is evolving. A provider wanted to conduct research to understand if and how the brand’s future relevance and vitality has changed (using our award-winning hi brands approach), to complement existing brand tracking. This is providing a holistic view of the brand’s current health in a competitive context, including challenger brands. In turn, the research will inform the provider’s communication, which has been especially important in recent months.


What does the future hold and how can research help?

It appears that the pandemic is not going anywhere soon. New behaviours and needs are therefore highly likely to remain or evolve further. Providers must seize the moment to help them differentiate and stay ahead in terms of meeting customer needs:

  • Identify how needs have changed, as previous assumptions may no longer hold true.
  • Refocus messaging around features that have become more relevant.
  • Evolve existing products and services to meet new behaviours and develop new ones that reflect the next normal.
  • Ensure communication, support and flexibility is optimised to help customers get through the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
  • Accelerate and prioritise digital needs. Support customers who want to do more digitally and across more products. Support those who are late to digital. Optimise the customer journey, including across channels.

We provide flexible ways of working with you, from fully managed support to self-service access and everything in between. We enable both agile qual and quant insights, using our leading-edge tech platforms and all with expert support from the Financial Services research team.

To hear more detail and discuss how your latest challenges can be supported by research, get in touch to arrange a call.